Everywhere I travel these days, I feel the effects of global warming. Weather patterns are changing, ice caps are melting, glaciers are receding and it is all becoming very obvious. I first started hearing about a change in climate from some of the Elders from up the James Bay coast about 20 years ago. More recently, I have learned through news from the worldwide scientific community that a phenomenon such as global warming is upon us. Although there is a debate happening with opposition to this concept being fuelled by big corporations, most reasonable people have accepted that global warming is the result of human-caused pollution.
There are so many ramifications of global warming. Changes in weather and temperatures, even though they don’t seem critical, can have great effect on wildlife. This means that my people, the Cree and the Aboriginal people of northern Canada, will be facing changes in our traditions and culture as it relates to our relationship to the land and the animals. Already, we see the polar-bear populations being affected as well as changes in the annual goose migration. The shorter winter freeze is also affecting my people’s ability to travel in the north. In the colder months we make great use of the frozen landscape to move about and a winter road connects communities up the James Bay coast. With the change in climate the winter road is going in later and thawing sooner every year.
Many in the corporate world and some in government are doing their best to discredit the scientists, writers and educators who are trying to alert us to this crisis of global warming. That sounds like a nasty thing to do but it is not the first time this form of denial has been encouraged. The cigarette lobby tried to convince the public for many years that there was little or no danger in smoking. They paid big money to hire lobbying firms to intimidate governments and discredit medical experts and scientists.
You would think that at this point in our civilization that we would be thinking in the long term and in the best interest of future generations, however we are still putting profit before anything else. As long as the average person does not educate themselves about global warming and the effect it will have on future generations then we will simply continue living in denial.
My people up the James Bay coast and the Aboriginal people of the coastal regions of the far north should be getting ready for some very big changes. Right now many of these communities right across Canada’s far north are isolated and remote. You can only get to them mainly by aircraft. With global warming hotly unfolding, we are getting reports that the sea ice of the famous Northwest Passage is receding more and more each year. It won’t be happening tomorrow but in the foreseeable future we will see for the first time ever major ship traffic on the Northwest Passage. This will become a very popular route and will have great effect on remote Aboriginal far north coastal communities. Of course, some of this will be beneficial, as goods and services will flow more easily to these communities. However, it will also provide easier access for corporations wanting to develop the harvesting of natural resources in these areas. The way of life for many remote Aboriginal communities will change rapidly.
It is easy to feel helpless with such enormous issues like global warming but we can have a voice. One thing we can do is to make sure that the environment and conservation once again becomes a top priority for the public. Our fu